The HyperTexts

J. Patrick Lewis

Rather than bore you with yet another (yawn!) literary bio, we've decided to "borrow" a few of J. Patrick Lewis's own words from his excellent poetry site—POETRY! POETRY! POETRY!

"Getting children excited about the wonders of poetry—experiencing literature—is the reason I visit schools in the first place. So students can expect to hear a lot of poetry reading—not stuffy verse. Poetry that is fun and respects the music of the written word. Poems about animals, nature, people, holidays—everything under the sun (and some things beyond)—including limericks, haiku, riddles, shape poems, narrative poems, song lyrics and nonsense verse."

If you like poems, limericks, riddles, nonsense verse, "doodle dandies" and such, we invite you to visit www.jpatricklewis.com for a frolic through a wonderland of words, poems and songs!



Dust Jackets

On litrachoor's exalted shore, God knows,
The mavens mind their pure and priceless prose,
Refusing to revise a single verb—
Yet no one seems embarrassed by a blurb.



The Difference
—Academic exegeses
Labor over which is which.
Simple. Verse is quick and easy.
Poetry's a bitch.



Paddy Pork

Paddy Pork
   wakes at nine,
      steps across
         the other swine.

Trots to market,
   buys an ax,
      lugs it home
         in paper sacks.

Paddy heaves-
   ho—high!
      Heavens, how
         the chips fly!

Piggies, hens
   & roosters stop,
      watching Paddy
         Pork chop.



Valentine's Day At Sea

February 14
Captain's Log
The Frisky Dog

Up through the fog came The Frisky Dog
   With me and my forty-man crew. 
We were tightly packed, as a matter of fact,
   For The Dog is a bark canoe.

Now the pop-eyed cook took a pop-eyed look,
   And he saw what we came to see:
The courtship swoon by a midnight moon
   Of an Octopus he and she.

They kissed on the lips and the slithery hips,
   They kissed on the suction cups.
And they bobbed in the brine like a ball of twine
   Till at last the bosun ups,

And he shouts, “I'm Dutch, but I never saw such 
   Sweet love on Valentine's Day!”
Then arm in arm . . . in arm . . . in arm . . . ,
   The Octopi bobbed away.



The seven poems below are a new verse form called a “zeno,” invented by the poet and inspired by the “hailstone sequence” in mathematics. A zeno is a 10-line poem with 8,4,2,1,4,2,1,4,2,1 syllables that rhyme abcdefdghd.



Weather,
by The Old Masters

The Michelangelo thunder
of an April
cloudburst
hints
at what follows
a great
rinse:
spring meadows in
Monet
prints.



What a Day

Out of dark's rougher neighborhoods,
Morning stumbles,
none too
bright,
recalling now
that thief,
Night,
who stole her work
of art—
Light.



Travel by Armchair

You can take a trip by Greyhound,
motorcycle,
paddle-
wheel,
ocean liner
(package
deal)—
I prefer the
bookmo-
bile.



Why Wolves Howl

Gray wolves do not howl at the moon.
Across a vast
timber
zone,
they oboe in
mono-
tone,
Fur-face, I am
all a-
lone.



Telephooone

The great horned owl sits in the tree
answering each
local
call—
swivel-neck and
big-eye-
ball
operator
of night-
fall.



A Slug Writes

The trails of slime I leave behind
are merely this:
cursive
scrawls
in juicy lines
on long
hauls—
“I dream of life
without
walls.”



A Third Grader Reflects
On the Good Old Days

Why isn't elementary school
filled with sizzle,
fizz and
buzz?
I wish I knew
why be-
cause
kindergarten
always
was.



Asian Passion

The girl glides her seduction to the Tapatio Trio.
She's dancing with an Oriental head of state con brio,
His body's back in Bogota, his money's down in Rio.

She plugs into a jukebox to connect her weird synapses
Leaving Latin wanderlusters wondering if this perhaps is
The music of the junta as the next regime collapses.

Says the Ample Politician to the Simple Talk Show Host,
"Asian passion is the fashion up and down the Chile coast."
Sweet talker says, "I see you've got the symptoms diagnosed."

        Every Talk Show has its Oprah,
        Every soap opera's a Soapra.
        Asian passion is the fashion,
        Asian fashion is the passion,
        South of south of Mehico.


The ministers are sinister and the diplomats are dumb
Sleepwalking through the Carnival of the Next Millennium,
Or counting down the nights until the new Hong Kong has come.

"Oh, they're pouring jobs and money in at such a record pace,"
Says the Servant to the Butler.  "That should keep us in our place
Till the dollar shames high heaven and the peso falls from grace.

"That Rich Uncle way up north, si, he's a fine fair-weather friend."
"But our Uncle," says El Presidente, "always spots a trend.
He will gladly shake a glad-hand to collect the dividend."

The girl slides her seduction by the fat-cat financiers.
The banker boys are laughing, but the peasants are in tears.
Officially, the continent's three decades in arrears.

She blows the French Ambassador a guided missile kiss—
Another international affair he wouldn't miss.
His passion eez zee woman, si, his bank account eez Swiss.

But the melody was written in a shiny coupe de ville
By a Singapore composer on a hundred dollar bill-
You can dance to it in Panama and hum it in Brazil.

        Every Talk Show has its Oprah,
        Every soap opera's a Soapra.
        Asian passion is the fashion,
        Asian fashion is the passion,
        South of south of Mehico.




Twit

Among the literati of the Thames,
Sir Osbert and Sacheverell were gems.
But still, there was the whiff of counterfeit ... well,
Their stuffy sister Edith didn't Sitwell.



Striptease

The trick is to arouse in men confusion
Beyond what's obfuscated by a string
And not remove all doubt for the illusion
Is better than not wearing anything.



The Red Army Colonel,
Drunk on New Year's Eve


Two knotted nylon stockings, an earring,
the key to someone else's apartment
festoon your glittering chest of medals.
A winter's night campaign, hard fought and won,
there is nothing more satisfying than
this conviviality, the white heat
of vodka burning down your memory.
Tonight, you believe three things, tomorrow,
who knows? At this moment, the man lying
breathless under your wife would like to raise
a toast in your name. A doctor whose views
no one takes seriously swears to you
that a company of rage will sweep through
your body until it captures your brain.
And the third thing you think you know going
one-for-the-road-and-the-undertaker
is that we will fight together again against
all you call the little yellow people.

First published in The Gettysburg Review, Spring 1988



Late Marriage

I cannot bear the way she looks at me,
With pity that could strip a soul entire.
Our old and graying domesticity
Has burned to ash what I recall as fire.



Events of My Life—
Li Po (701?-762)


Writing of water and loneliness, I taught myself the immensities.
I laughed at the Emperor, who seasoned my soup with his own
hands, and at Kao Li-shih, his disagreeable horse eunuch, who
     pulled off my boots with his own hands.

I discovered jasmine & blue smoke.  The world is a plum blossom.
Death never entered my poems for it was my custom to argue
with the angels.  If you must marry, said my father, the murderer,
     do it well.  I followed his advice three times. 

Because I loved him, I slept with Tu Fu under the same coverlet.
He asked me why my words my boats my joy sailed away from
Chang-kan, never to reach the far shore.  Poems, I said, are built
     of birdsong, which tends to wander.

The night I died, in a shaky boat, my sword lay across my knees.
I'd drunk fifty cups of wine when the wanton moon offered herself. 
Water woman, I pitched headlong into you, happy at last
     to let down my lovely hair.



Ecstatics

1

Slow as a bell-ringer, goofy as a mayfly,
Joseph of Copertino was taken young by Franciscans
hopelessly in love with innocents. On weekends
in fine weather, he'd taxi out of the stables
& into the bluegoose sky above La Grotello,
flying so high the good friars had to clip
his wings. Authentic sightings include
the solo over Osimo, the glide-by at Naples,
which in itself would confirm the rapture.
The patron saint of airmen ended his days
instructing the angels.

2

Hilarion, the first recorded solitary in Palestine,
lived in a hut near the port of Gaza, teaching
the alphabet to lizards. It took him fifty years;
they were slow learners. Once, still young
but adamantine, he had a nocturnal emission.
In priapic bent, he'd flog himself everywhere
but there, on the principle of pain displacement.
Pathetic deprivations attracted followers,
who pursued him all over the Old World.
When he died a late October, fourth century,
they smuggled his body away in a flour sack.

The HyperTexts